The design world always has an “in” color it embraces as its neutral; it’s the color you see painted inside spec houses and rentals and popularized in catalogues and online. While white is always a neutral fallback, beige was favored in the early 2000s. For the past 10 years, it’s been gray. Now many in the design world say there is a new neutral in town: black.
Sarah Fishburne, the director of trend and design at the Home Depot, credits the growing black-painted-room trend to the modern farmhouse craze of the last few years. The style updates classic “country” details by painting them black so they look more modern.
Fishburne plans to paint her dining room black before Thanksgiving. “I have always loved black rooms, especially when you have great molding and trim work. The black really shows it all off,” she says. Fishburne’s dining room has classic board and batten siding three quarters up its walls and a 10-foot-high coffer ceiling, which she says “will really pop in black.” Another thing she thinks will stand out against her soon-to-be black walls: her art collection. “Like white, black is a blank canvas and it’s super versatile.”
Briana Nix, a designer for the online decorating service Decorist, agrees that black is extremely versatile — a characteristic that is essential to any neutral. “Black is a great supporter of all interior styles,” she says. “Whether sleek and modern or rustic farmhouse, black paint and decor offers a sophisticated air to many different looks.”
Beyond making spaces look more stylish, black paint has another useful quality, some designers say: It makes rooms feel bigger. Houston-based interior designer Dennis Brackeen says this is contrary to what most people think. He says dark colors make a room’s walls recede. Decorist designer Caitlin McBride explains: “Since the corners of a dark painted room can’t be defined and there isn’t an easy way to tell where they start or end, the walls feel endless.”